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Hillary Clinton Calls For Universal, Opt-Out Voter Registration

The pointed attacks and extensive policy proposals signal that Clinton intends to make voter access a major plank in her campaign platform.
Hillary Clinton Calls For Universal, Opt-Out Voter Registration
Image from: Hillary Clinton

Talk about sticking it in the Republicans' eye! Hillary Clinton is calling for opt-out, universal voter registration -- and if there's anything we know about Republicans, it's that they hate democracy in general and voter participation in particular:

HOUSTON — Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday called for sweeping changes in national voter-access laws aimed at making it easier for young people and minorities to take part in elections, putting her on a collision course with Republicans who say such measures are a political ploy that would lead to widespread abuses.

In a speech at a historically black college here, Clinton called for federal legislation that would automatically register Americans to vote at age 18 and would mandate at least 20 days of early voting ahead of election days in all states.

Making her most fiercely partisan political speech since her first, failed run for president in 2008, Clinton attacked Republicans for what she characterized as a calculated attempt to turn back the clock on voting rights — and called out several potential 2016 opponents by name for backing voter restrictions as governors.

“Today Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting,” Clinton said in a speech at Texas Southern University. “What part of democracy are they afraid of?”

The pointed attacks and extensive policy proposals signal that Clinton intends to make voter access a major plank in her campaign platform — a move aimed at firing up the Democratic base and portraying her GOP opponents as suppressing votes. Her campaign’s top lawyer, Marc Elias, has co-filed lawsuits over voting access in Ohio and Wisconsin — both key presidential battleground states with Republican governors who may join the 2016 race.

I kind of love how the Washington Post reporters covering the event indicate that GOP voter suppression (which is reality) is some kind of sleight of hand on the part of the Clinton campaign -- instead of well-documented reality. Don't ever change, guys!

The Republican National Committee accused Clinton of being “misleading and divisive” and noted that her home state of New York does not provide early voting. “Her exploitation of this issue only underscores why voters find her dishonest and untrustworthy,” RNC spokesman Orlando Watson said in a statement.


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Ah, yes. "Dishonest and untrustworthy" are the new Kenyan birth certificate, and don't you forget it. Even if the Republicans forgot to say it, the Village stenographers would have found a way to work it into the story, don't worry! It's part of The Narrative!

During her speech, Clinton said Republican state legislatures are intentionally restricting voting by curtailing early access to the polls and other measures in an effort to ­suppress Democratic turnout. Among the potential opponents she singled out for criticism were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and former Texas governor Rick Perry. Perry announced his second run for the White House on Thursday.

“Today there are people who offer themselves to be leaders whose actions have undercut this fundamental American principle” of a free vote, Clinton said.

Perry spokesman Travis Considine said Clinton’s remarks demonstrate “how truly out of touch she is with the people of Texas.”

“While it is unfortunate, Gov. Perry is not surprised that Hillary Clinton would come to Texas and call for weakening the integrity of our election process,” Considine said in a statement.

At this point in the story, let's insert some relevant information. Does the Texas election process have actual integrity? Juan Thompson at The Intercept:

Take the situation in Texas, where Democrat Wendy Davis lost badly to Republican Greg Abbott in the gubernatorial race. More important than her expected defeat is that the Lone Star State had the lowest voter turnout in the country at 33%, down from 38% four years earlier. It’s difficult to determine to what precise extent Texas’s new voter ID law is to blame for the poor turnout, but “there are somewhere between 600,000 and 1.4 million registered voters in Texas without state ID,” according to Kathleen Unger, whose nonprofit, VoteRiders, works to get people the documents they need to vote. Working through local organizations, two-year-old VoteRiders went into Houston’s Harris County this year in response to what Unger called its “very restrictive” voter ID law.

Despite such efforts, some Texans were still unable to vote. Think Progress’ Alice Ollstein recently documented how some Texas voters were dropped from the rolls or denied ballots because they couldn’t afford new IDs. Ollstein couldn’t quantify such incidents, but a recent Government Accountability Office report on voter ID laws in Tennessee and Kansas found they decreased turnout in those two states in 2012. In Texas, there are indications the same thing happened this year, including the fact that provisional ballots increased by half on Tuesday to 16,463, an uptick from the 8,000 issued in 2010. Provisional ballots are given to voters who have difficulty proving their eligibility, and because some thwarted voters don’t even bother to cast them, they are a proxy for larger problems.

Yep, we're back to journalism professor Jay Rosen's famous "View From Nowhere." Expect more of "some say" and "on the other hand" reporting, spiced up by the occasional touch of style critique (Bernie Sanders' hair! Tie-dyed supporters!) and character assassination (Hillary Clinton is dishonest and entitled). What fun.

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